25 December 2020

I love Christmas. Always have, and probably always will.

Growing up in Thailand, Christmas was fused with New Years into one long, festive holiday season. Christmas/New Years equalled presents. Fairy lights in the garden that dad and I would painstakingly put up (and even more painstakingly remove). My school of 13 years, being Catholic, used to have Christmas celebrations. We also had friendly, but fierce annual competitions of which class can glue/staple/tape together the most elaborate Christmas board.

Then I went to study in the UK and Europe, where Christmas was always a magical time of year, and I just loved soaking up the atmosphere. Lights on Oxford Street. Christmas decor in malls. Christmas markets. Mulled wine, hot chocolate, presents around the tree. I loved it all.

So today being Christmas, it’s a special day for me. And I’ll take this special opportunity to reflect on my experience of 2020.

The Move

West Lake, Hanoi, December 2019.

2020 was supposed to be the year of the big move to Vietnam. Thanks to Covid, this has not happened. But preparations never ceased and I never wavered in the decision. Now finally the jigsaw pieces appear to be falling together and I’m set for a March 2021 move. Fingers crossed all goes well.

The Job

September 2020, Bangkok.

2020 was a life-defining year for me career-wise. I landed the job of a lifetime, and often I still can’t believe I’m working for Mark, an author whose work I truly admire, and now that I actually know him in real life (albeit only digitally for now), really a genuinely awesome person.

The Friends

Fancy staycation with my closest friend, December 2020.

2020 has been a year of deepening new friendships and reconnecting with old ones. It’s probably the year where I’ve had the most fulfilling social experiences. Funny that in a year where most of the world is locked down and socially distanced, I’ve had my most active year socially. I’m thankful the Covid situation was quickly under control here and I was able to have those many lunches, coffees, and dinners with friends.

The Family

The home office, much of 2020.

2020 was also a year of spending time with family, from Agoda going remote in March and much of the remainder of the year. I was living at home, eating mom’s cooking, working comfortably in my new home office set-up (pictured is my swanky new laptop stand which I’m very pleased about buying).

Val’s Bespoke English

2020 was also the year I launched Val’s Bespoke English, my premium tailored English tutoring service.

I’d been teaching privately for many years, but 2020 was the year I decided to formalise it and properly advertise.

And I’ve been pretty pleased with the results so far!

All in all, 2020 has been a pretty good year to me. A year of new experiences, new beginnings, and personal growth in various ways.

Here’s to 2021. May it be kind to all of us.

Love,

Val

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